notes from the bra making workshop- © Lara Lotze, 2011
forget bra patterns- make your own! I was so frustrated with *everything* I found, I developed my own method. If you use this method or share it, please give credit where it is due! I spent months researching and experimenting, and I'd like to get at least acknowledgement for sharing my efforts!
(I hope to post pictures soon, but I am lousy at getting things to load on my slow connection!)
Supplies from http://www.bramakerssupply.com/ *underwire(long) *underwire casing
Supplies from Joann's *Pellon- request the thickest stiffener/interfacing available
General supplies *1/2 inch medical/first aid tape *craft scissors *sweedish tracing paper or other drape-able pattern paper *standard sewing supplies (thread, sewing machine, pins, etc)
step 1- find a set of underwires that fit you. They should lie flat against your chest, without pinching any breast tissue.
step 2- get out your best fitting bra, preferably a hard cup of some kind. if you need to fill a cup to get it to reflect actual breast size (soft cup bra) fill a balloon with rice until it is the appropriate size & place it under the cup.
step 3- use medical tape to mark a line from the bottom center of the cup, across the nipple line to the under arm edge. (if you can't eyeball it, use chalk or something washable to mark your nipple while wearing the bra you are using for sizing)- on most bras, this should put the end of the line at about 1/2- 1 inch below the top of the under arm edge of the sizing bra.
step 4- find the center of that line and use the medical tape to mark a perpendicular line from the center to the bottom side edge (so you should have a T of tape on the bra)
step 5- carefully take the tape off the bra and place on your pattern paper. Use the edge of your underwire to start a curve of the right shape on either side of the tape- we are going to take a tuck here in a minute, so you are going to have to continue & adapt the curve such that it goes around the bottom of that T smoothly.
step 6- cut around that curve line and down the (horizontal) center of the tape at the top of the T.
step 7- use medical tape to attach your pattern piece to the edges and center of the underwires. Here is the really tricky part. take 2 tucks, one on either side of the center, to get the bottom edge of the curve to fit the wire while adding depth to the center to hold the boob. tape along the length of your tuck, from the edge all the way to the center (extend the line all the way to the center edge!)
step 8- take the pattern piece off the wires. Mark each section of the pattern out, middle, in, use arrows to indicate which side of the pattern piece is the outside (so it will look something like this: <--out|mid|in--> ) cut down the middle of the tuck-tape.
step 9- trace this onto new, pristine pattern paper and add 1/4 inch seam allowance to both sides of the *middle* section only. Remember to transfer all your markings
step 10- somewhere around here, you have pattern paper with half a strip of medical tape stuck to it. Find it and use that tape as the bottom of the next pattern piece. it should be min. 1 inch higher than the medical tape. cut a 45 degree angle from the top of the medical tape into the top part of the pattern piece on both sides. Note that, since you measured across the nipple line, you are guaranteed at least 1 inch of nipple protection coverage! You can make it more if you need to.
step 11- trace all pattern pieces on your pellon twice- remember to flip the cup pattern pieces for the second cup. I usually mark the pieces cut from the flipped patter pieces with a 2, in addition to transferring the other markings.
step 12- pin the pattern pieces for the lower half of the cup with a1/4 inch overlap- this is why we didn't need seam allowances on all the pieces! pin a lot, because it is hard to maintain the curve when you sew if you don't!
step 13- sew the bottom part of the cup.
step 14- pin the upper edge, with 1/4 inch overlap, sew.
step 15- sew the other cup
step 16- invert both cups (this *should* minimize the lines of excess pellon, but feel free to shear it down with scissors if you still have excess) The bra cups will still look a little wide and flat
step 17- sew underwire casing to the inside of the bra cups- leave a little extra to fold over at the ends.
step 18- insert underwires. Wow! admire that curvy, perfectly fitting cup!
step 19- depending on what kind of straps you use (halter, standard, etc) you will need to take a tuck in the top to make it contour properly. simply cut in the middle to the seam line, overlap and stitch. Use craft scissors to trim & shape the center top edge of the bra (the instructions here essentially have one bra cup running into the next for folks who want full coverage, but since pellon does not fray, it is easy to just cut away to your desired shape.)
Notes on finishing the bra will come in another post.